The Wolf and the Dove (Kathleen E. Woodiwiss)

Title: The Wolf and the Dove

Author: Kathleen E. Woodiwiss

Series: 

Date: 1974

Blurb:

The Wolf

Noble Aislinn grieves as the Iron Wolf and his minions storm through her beloved Darkenwald. And she burns with malice for the handsome Norman savage who would enslave her. . .even as she aches to know the rapture of the conqueror’s kiss.

The Dove

For the first time ever, mighty Wulfgar has been vanquished – and by a bold and beautiful princess of Saxon blood. He must have the chaste, sensuous enchantress who is sworn to his destruction. And he will risk life itself to nurture with tender passion a glorious union born in the blistering heat of hatred and war.

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Review Day! 

Let’s make it a throwback, shall we?

Today I bring you an old one by late New York Times Bestselling Author Kathleen E. Woodiwiss.

The Wolf and the Dove is a Historical Medieval Romance. Taking place during the times of William the Conqueror (year 1066), it shows us the now almost legendary conflict between Saxony and Normandy for the control of England. I must say this is the first Woodiwiss book I’ve read, and only because it was dearly recommended. I had seen her name before but never actually got curious. Oh, boy, was I missing out!

Mrs. Woodiwiss knowledge of History and her narrative control and nothing short of masterful. I as I read, it felt like I was going through a specially detailed, specially interesting, specially amazing Encyclopedia that offered a colorful, three-dimensional version of a century long gone.

I love fiction books that can teach the reader (you should know, most of what I know about Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo comes from Regency novels!) and this author has gone above and beyond in that sense.     

More information, visit the author’s wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kathleen_E._Woodiwiss

 

So, let’s see it! ———-

This book presents us with an England ravaged by war. As Normandy invades and Duke William advances to take his crown, Saxony slowly falls under the onslaught, and the Saxon lords are given the option to either yield or die against the power of the fierce invaders. Elderly Lord Erland of Darkenwald meets the intruders head on when they threaten his holding, and enraged by their unreasonable and cruel demands, he stands against them to defend his home.

His death leaves his wife and young daughter, as well as the poor souls of Darkenwald at the mercy of a cruel, vindictive Norman knight named Ragnor de Marte.

But not all is lost. Because Ragnor is not to be the new Lord of Darkenwald. No, Duke William has promised these lands to another of his loyal vassals: a mighty warrior known as the Iron Wolf.

The main characters in The Wolf and the Dove are Wulfgar and Aislinn.

Wulfgar is a Norman knight serving William the Conqueror. Scorned because of his bastardous birth, he is mocked by other noble knights in William’s army, even as he is feared by these same knights because of his battle prowess. He values loyalty over all, rewards good deeds handsomely and punishes mistakes harshly. I would say he is a great example of what a medieval lord would be: he is a warrior but also a leader, and knows the value of good service, he doesn’t kill when there is no need, and although he does not seek war, he is ready to face it and is never unprepared. Intelligent, strong and calculating, Wulfar is aloof and unattached, with a manifested hatred towards women. That, of course, until he meets Aislinn.

Aislinn is an interesting character. The daughter of the deceased Lord Erland, she gets to see her father being murdered, her home ravaged and her mother beaten by the Norman soldiers. Her rape on the hands of the same man who murdered his father is the ultimate humiliation in her eyes. This causes her to develop a scorching hatred for them, but what I found interesting is that the emotion is not forefront for her. Sure, she is resented and bitter, but she doesn’t let the emotion cloud her judgement. She doesn’t attack the knights or tries to take revenge. As she sees her house being taken by her enemies and her people being forced into servitude, she doesn’t come with some nefarious and subtle (naive and stupid) plan to right the wrongs. Instead, she accepts her circumstances with philosophy while trying to make the best she can of a bad situation. It surprised me because I’ve seen several Historical Romance heroines who always get incredibly flustered and spend hours musing about revenge and justice, and blah, blah, blah… Reading about Aislinn I realized that that is exactly the way a real woman in her position would’ve acted. These women live with war every day and they know what it entails, they know that one day they can be the victors, and the next day they can be on the losing side. Accepting what can’t be changed and trying to get past it and build a good life is all they can do to take control of their destiny.


Aislinn’s strength and her common sense was a pleasant surprise indeed. Of course,
this doesn’t mean she didn’t fight every step of the way against Wulfgar.

The relationship between these two was one I liked a lot. In private they were bickering and fighting savagely, one for control, the other for freedom. But in public they presented a united front, two against the world and for those who needed them. The relationship is all about compromising, about shedding one’s shields and accepting the other person, including the way they can hurt you if they please. These two characters have been taught not to trust others the hard way, and they must re-learn their lessons if they want to make it work. The whole process was bumpy and complicated and also totally believable. Seeing this two come together and go from sworn enemies to loving couple was very enjoyable for me.

 

My rating:

5

“Grab ‘n Go!” 

The Altar! The crème de la crème. The book that ’ll revisit several times a year, just so I can re-read my favorite part. It’s not easy to get that coveted fifth star, so if you did, rest assured: you’ve definitely earned it!

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